Newsweek: The Fallout

I blamed Tina Brown’s editorial decisions for Newsweek’s fall. “Star-power,” whatever that means, is not enough, not when it comes to good journalism. 

I canceled my subscription last year because of the content and the cheesy tabloid feel of the magazine after The Daily Beast takeover. I am sure that many other subscribers did the same.

We didn’t cancel our subscription because we didn’t like print but because we didn’t like that kind of print.

Here is what others are saying about Newsweek’s demise:

“From the start, it was an unwieldy melding of two newsrooms: a legacy print magazine, Newsweek, combined with an irreverent digital news site, The Daily Beast […] and it was held together by the experienced magazine editor Tina Brown, looking for one more big hit on her résumé. […] [b]ehind the scenes, current and former employees say, there were tensions that led to an increasingly tumultuous newsroom, as financial losses mounted and Ms. Brown struggled to integrate the two operations and maintain Newsweek’s relevance.”

(Christine Haughney, The New York Times)

“There are a lot of vital (weeklies) that have done a remarkable job expanding their brand [The New Yorker, the Economist, the Week and Time]. I think the situation with Newsweek is that they lost their way editorially. I think advertisers began to lose faith.”

(George Janson, managing partner, director of print for GroupM in an interview with Reuters) 

“Newsweek’s decision to stop publishing a print edition after 80 years and bet its life entirely on a digital future may be more a commentary on its own problems than a definitive statement on the health of the magazine industry. […] [T]he magazine business has stabilized, albeit at a lower level, since the Great Recession ended three years ago. For some, that casts a harsher light on Newsweek’s decision to abandon print — affecting the nearly 1.4 million Newsweek subscribers who get their copy each week in the mail. They say it speaks to the magazine’s trouble connecting with and keeping its readers. That brings to mind some questionable covers, like the July 2011 what-if image depicting what Princess Diana would have looked like at age 50, or last month’s “Muslim Rage” cover depicting angry protesters, which was roundly mocked on social networks like Twitter.”

(The Associated Press)

“Newsweek is using a difficult print ad environment as an “excuse” for its decision to end print runs. […] Tina Brown took Newsweek in the wrong direction. Newsweek did not die, Newsweek committed suicide. […]  The magazine lost its DNA. […] Newsweek ignored the audience. The magazine stopped giving the audience the intellectual stimulation magazines of that genre are in the business of giving. Newsweek is not The Daily Beast and The Daily Beast in NOT Newsweek. The audience was confused and so, it seems, the folks behind Newsweek. History teaches us, time and time again, that you can’t mess with your DNA and expect to survive.”

(Samir Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the University of Mississippi School of Journalism)

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Tekla Szymanski

Tekla is a New-York based independent content strategist and front-end web developer, a multilingual journalist, writer and editor (both offline and online).

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